Israeli warplanes have carried out fresh airstrikes against the besieged Gaza Strip late Friday, bombarding the tiny Palestinian enclave shortly after Israeli soldiers shot dead several protesters near the boundary fence.
The aerial assault struck several locations in the Gaza Strip, including in the east of Rafah town and in central parts of the strip. No reports have yet been released about possible casualties due to the airstrikes.
The Israeli military defended the bombings, claiming in a press statement that the aerial aggression was in retaliation to 16 rockets allegedly fired by Hamas against the southern parts of the illegally-occupied territories earlier in the day.
The statement elaborated that Israel’s prized Iron Dome missile defense system managed to intercept at least 10 of the inbound projectiles, while the remaining six reportedly exploded harmlessly in open areas without any damage or casualties. However, the incoming rockets triggered eight different sirens to blare for hours across several settlements, prompting thousands of alarmed settlers to rush into bomb shelters for refuge.
The latest airstrikes swiftly followed two consecutive aerial attacks just within the past 48 hours. The morning before, Israeli fighter jets also hit eight targets purported to belong to Hamas near the towns of Khan Younis and Rafah, as well as other targets, early Thursday. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Additionally, on Wednesday, Israel’s air force struck an area in Gaza they contended had been used by Hamas to deploy “incendiary balloons” into the occupied territories.
The airstrikes on Friday were deployed just hours after five Palestinian protesters were shot to death by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during the weekly “Great March of Return” rallies along the heavily militarized boundary line separating the Gaza Strip from the occupied territories.
At least two Palestinians were killed in a recent Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip amid mounting tensions along the separation fence escalating reciprocally with the violent belligerence of the IDF soldiers, further compounding the seemingly endless manifold Palestinian grievances over the inhumane, near-uninhabitable living conditions brutally imposed upon them by the continued Israeli and Egyptian blockade, only exacerbated by daily settler violence and abuse.
Israeli armed forces regularly conduct periodic onslaughts of indiscriminate carnage on the Gaza Strip, violently cracking down on peaceful protesters with vicious, often deadly brutality, deliberately targeting civilian non-combatants — especially children — and civilian infrastructure with fervent cyclical frequency towards the apparent objective of aggressively blocking Gaza’s defenseless civilian population from ever achieving even a rudimentary civil structure or orderliness. Israeli military strategists and hard-liners have cynically favored the horrific gardening metaphors of “mowing the lawn” and “cutting the grass” to describe this frequent cruel practice of slaughtering Palestinian civilians with reckless abandon, providing them an excuse to test out newly developed weaponry which subsequently can be marketed as “battle-tested” to prospective arms buyers.
The Gaza Strip has been a focal point of escalating tensions since the start of the weekly “Great March of Return” protests on March 30 calling for the universally guaranteed right of refugees to return home — a right that, for over 70 years, has been consistently denied to Palestinians driven out of their ancestral homeland.
Those tensions spiked sharply on May 14, marking the 70th anniversary of the Nakba Day (“Day of Catastrophe”), which this year coincided with the grand opening of the controversial, newly-relocated US embassy in occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, transplanted from its previous location in the official capital of Israel, Tel Aviv.
The Israeli military has ramped up its already heavily armored forces around the Gaza Strip in order to intimidate, harass, terrorize, and otherwise stomp out the ongoing weekly Palestinian protests from continuing.
More than 200 Palestinians have been killed and over 20,000 others wounded by Israeli aggression in the Great March of Return protests since March 30, according to the latest figures released by the Gaza Health Ministry.
The Palestinian territory has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007, with the Egyptian border also sealed off. The land, air, and sea blockade has precipitated an ongoing humanitarian crisis, causing a steep decline in living conditions for the trapped and besieged Palestinian inhabitants as well as unprecedented record high unemployment and poverty rates.
Israel has also relentlessly launched several bloody wars against Gaza’s encircled civilian population which was decimated by the thousands as a result, the last of which occurred between early July and late August of 2014. In less than 2 months, the Israeli military operation mercilessly massacred nearly 2,200 Palestinians and injured over 11,100 others.
*Expanded from original article published October 27, 2018 at PressTV.